James Rodriguez became ‘slightly predictable’ at Everton last season, according to former Toffees winger Pat Nevin, who was speaking to BBC Sport.
A year on from his arrival at Goodison Park, there is significant uncertainty over the future of the former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich star.
Everton unsuccessfully tried to send him to FC Porto as part of a swap deal for Luis Diaz late in the summer transfer window (via Carlos Aleman), while he is yet to play a single minute of football across the Blues’ first four competitive matches under Rafael Benitez, although it should be noted that he has had a spell in quarantine.
Nevin has said that James would repeatedly cut in from the right-hand side and switch play to a runner on the left, a ploy to which which other managers will have quickly grown wise.
He also suggested that, at previous clubs, the 30-year-old may have become accustomed to matches where his team knew they would win ‘without any hassle’, but he doesn’t have that luxury in the Premier League.
As per BBC, the former Scotland international said: “Playing on the right, he was cutting in and sending it to the left, where Everton would overlap, and if I can see that other managers will see that, and if you don’t have pace to go by people it limits your options.
“In the Premier League, you play every single week at pace, and there are very few games where you think ‘we will win this without any hassle’. You get that in European football but not in the Premier League, and not with Everton.”
It doesn’t necessarily feel like performances are the issue with James, although with eight of his 11 goal contributons last season coming before February, Nevin’s point about his play becoming “predictable” may be a fair one.
The bigger concerns, though, are over fitness and attitude.
He missed out on the starting line-up for 17 of Everton’s 38 Premier League matches last season, appearing to regularly struggle with muscular injuries.
His recent conduct must also be questioned. Admitting on a Thursday night that he didn’t know who were Everton playing on a Saturday (prior to last month’s clash with Leeds) can’t have gone down well at the club.
In other news, Alex McLeish can see this 24 y/o at Goodison Park.
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